Building Well-being with the NHS 5 Steps

Take 5 steps to wellbeing is an evidence-based public health message aimed at improving wellbeing. Based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), these simple and effective messages are grounded in solid evidence and draw on a wealth of psychological and economic literature from inter-disciplinary work.

These simple 5 steps to wellbeing contribute to improving wellbeing in its fullest sense, both physically and emotionally, where people can feel good and
function well. Evidence indicates that it is individuals who practice all ‘5 steps’ who have the highest level of wellbeing. (Kim Scott, Acting Director of Education).

The Role of Schools

Schools play a crucial role in shaping young minds. Not only do they equip students with academic knowledge, but they also have the potential to be bastions of well-being, fostering healthy habits and emotional resilience. The NHS 5 steps to well-being offer a simple yet powerful framework to guide schools in this endeavour.

1. Connect: Weaving a Web of Belonging

Schools can foster connection by:

  • Creating inclusive classrooms: Celebrating diversity and promoting empathy through activities, books, and discussions.
  • Encouraging peer support: Implementing buddy programmes, well-being ambassadors, and peer mentoring initiatives.
  • Organising community events: Hosting festivals, talent shows, or sports competitions to build school spirit.  Why not extend this into the community by inviting VIPs from the local area to attend?
  • Providing safe spaces for open communication: Establishing designated areas for students to relax and talk with well-being leads or peers.

2. Be Active: Get Those Brains and Bodies Moving!

Physical activity isn’t just about fitness; it’s a mood booster and stress reliever. Schools can help students stay active by:

  • Integrating movement into the curriculum: Incorporating short activity breaks in lessons or using kinesthetic learning techniques.
  • Offering diverse physical education classes: Catering to different interests and abilities with options like yoga, dance, or team sports.
  • Organising outdoor activities: Planning nature walks, or sports matches, the daily mile – to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Encouraging active commuting: Promoting cycling, walking, or scooting to school.

3. Keep Learning: Igniting the Spark of Curiosity

A curious mind is a happy mind. Schools can nurture a love for learning by:

  • Providing enriching learning experiences: Offering a variety of subjects, electives, and extracurricular activities.
  • Encouraging project-based learning: Allowing students to explore their interests and solve problems creatively.
  • Celebrating individual talents and strengths: Showcasing student work and achievements to boost confidence.
  • Creating a culture of lifelong learning: Promoting the idea that learning is a continuous journey, not just confined to the classroom.

4. Give: Cultivating Kindness and Compassion

Giving back to the community fosters a sense of belonging and purpose. Schools can encourage this by:

  • Organising volunteering opportunities: Partnering with local organisations or charities to provide service learning experiences.
  • Promoting acts of kindness: Implementing random acts of kindness initiatives or school-wide service projects.
  • Teaching empathy and social responsibility: Incorporating discussions about social issues and ethical decision-making.
  • Celebrating acts of generosity and service: Recognising and appreciating students who contribute to the community.

5. Take Notice: Finding Joy in the Present Moment

Mindfulness helps us appreciate the present and manage stress. Schools can introduce mindfulness practices by:

  • Teaching simple breathing exercises and meditation techniques: Dedicate a few minutes each day to guided mindfulness practice.
  • Encouraging mindful activities: Incorporate yoga, nature walks, or art as therapy into the curriculum.
  • Promoting gratitude: Encourage students to keep gratitude journals or share things they’re thankful for during class time.
  • Creating a calming environment: Designate quiet spaces for students to unwind and practice mindfulness.

Further Reading

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